The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.
Recently, someone asked my thoughts on racial segregation in the US church on Sunday mornings: “How will we ever move forward together, as a unified church, if people of color don’t forgive us for the past?”
A brutal grand jury report on clergy abuse of minors in Pennsylvania was published last week. It details a mass cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by more than three hundred priests in Pennsylvania, and outlines the procedures churches employed to protect predatory priests and conceal sexual abuse.
We asked our supporters what concrete measures churches can take to combat abuse in Christian communities and strengthen their internal response to abuse. Some of you weighed in with some great ideas and examples, which we’ve compiled below.
Naturally, social hierarchies are safe for those at the top. They’re designed to preserve the existing social structure, which already prioritizes the needs and perspectives of the group with power. Social hierarchies don’t make less powerful people and groups safer. Rather, they exacerbate any vulnerabilities and pose danger and harm to marginalized people.
It matters that Mary and Jesus are often inaccurately imaged with light skin in the West. It matters that pastors preach on Jacob, David, and Peter but not Rahab, Tamar, and Priscilla. And it matters that, Sunday after Sunday, women don’t see preachers who look like us in the pulpit.